The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant toll not only on the health sector and the overall economy, but also on the mental health and wellbeing of many Australians, according to a leading international grief counsellor.

Sharing his expertise in a new guide, Dr Alan Wolfelt, Founder of the Centre for Loss and Life Transition, said the current grief pandemic was particularly challenging for those in the community who had lost loved ones.

The guide, Grieving during the Pandemic, was developed by Sydney’s largest independent group of family-owned funeral operators to help the community through the ‘grief pandemic’, which is adding significant stress on emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing.

Dr Wolfelt has spent his career supporting the mental health and wellbeing of communities during times of heightened grief and mourning.

“By being aware of your emotional, social, and spiritual health and deliberately focusing on your own self-care, we can address the grief pandemic,” Dr Wolfelt said.

“Practices we should consider to minimise the grief includes making sure the information you get on the pandemic is from a trusted source, openly sharing your feelings with others, focusing on what you’re grateful for and maintaining regular human contact.”

Dr Wolfelt added: “As a result of the pandemic raising grief around the community, it was amplifying the significant stresses for those that have lost their loved ones.”

In the guide, Dr Wolfelt recommends key practices to maintaining a healthy mindset during home isolation. Some of his main suggestions include:

  • Scheduling time to have fun throughout the day
  • Call your family or friends
  • Keep a journal

During a period of heightened levels of grief experienced worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to acknowledge the magnified grief felt by those who have lost a loved one.

Steve Kellaway, Managing Director of Olsens Funerals, said: “The Australian community is experiencing elevated levels of stress and possibly a decline in mental wellbeing due to COVID-19.”

“At Olsens Funerals, along with Walter Carter Funerals, we are providing live video streaming of services and offering the option to hold a split service as part of the package. This allows for families and friends to remember their loved one post-isolation as a group.

“We believe this is an important step to help process grief into mourning and potentially the mental health of those suffering through the loss of a loved one.”

The Grieving during the Pandemic guide is available for free download at yourloss.com.au.